Response in Africa



International Medical Corps has been working closely with Burundi’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and other key stakeholders for a number of years to protect the country from Ebola, and has leveraged these preparedness activities to support the country’s COVID-19 contingency plans. Our team activated 10 COVID-19 steering committees in 10 health districts and trained rapid response teams (RRTs), establishing district-based coordination in the provinces of Muyinga, Ngozi, Kirundo and Kayanza, bordering Rwanda and Tanzania. With support from International Medical Corps staff from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Burundi mission has provided training on COVID-19 for almost 600 healthcare providers, and provided training-of-trainers sessions for an additional 67 MoH personnel. The country team has helped the government conduct screening and follow-up at Bujumbura International Airport, examining incoming passengers from countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and it has provided training on COVID-19 risk communication to more than 1,000 health and non-health personnel at the airport and at the hotels where suspected cases are quarantined. Our Burundi team continues to help the MoH expand COVID-19 response capacity at the provincial level, strengthening training committees, setting up district RRTs, and improving IPC and WASH conditions in health facilities, including five provincial hospitals—in Cibitoke, Ngozi, Gitega, Karuzi and Makamba— as well as refugee camps and points of entry. We have constructed COVID-19 triage units at the five provincial hospitals we serve and equipped them with hygiene materials, including handwashing stations and soap. International Medical Corps has supported 305 primary health facilities and 17 hospitals with COVID-19 supplies, and has reached more than 3.1 million indirect beneficiaries since late February. In addition, through a local partner, International Medical Corps continues to conduct community outreach and education programs through engagement with religious and administrative leaders, and has supported the broadcast of COVID-19 prevention messages through five community radio stations. The Burundi team will soon begin implementing a COVID-19 response in densely populated Gitega province that will provide IPC and PPE supplies, on-the-job training, community awareness raising and facilitation of a COVID-19 steering committee to strengthen response coordination.



The COVID-19 pandemic continues to persist in Cameroon while the government and its response partners fight to maintain hygiene, social distancing and surveillance efforts in the face of a general perception that COVID-19 is receding. The coming weeks will be critical, as the country resumes normal life and business in spite of ongoing community transmission. Nearly 7 million children resumed school on October 5, after more than 31,850 schools were closed in March. Moreover, Cameroon is currently at the height of rainy season, when the population is more vulnerable to the spread of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, malaria and hepatitis E, and impassable roads make it harder to access humanitarian assistance. International Medical Corps has been responding to COVID-19 in Cameroon by screening patients, training healthcare workers on prevention and treatment, raising awareness in refugee camps of COVID-19 and how to prevent it, and distributing PPE to frontline health staff. Since March 27, our team has been implementing a COVID-19 response and prevention project in the Minawao refugee camp in the Far North, which hosts more than 60,000 refugees, and where malnutrition is widespread. To date, health teams have trained 60 health workers and 186 outreach volunteers in COVID-19 prevention, screened 7,261patients for COVID-19 and reached 140,209people with COVID-19 prevention messaging. Over the last month, we also trained 78 community health volunteers on infant and young-child feeding in a COVID-19 context, to strengthen the nutrition and health of children during the pandemic. The mission has distributed 38,229 hygiene and PPE items to community health workers and frontline staff in the Far North, North and East regions, including 11,429 masks and 20,035 bars of soap. In Cameroon’s East region, we have trained 93 community health workers, who have reached 60,041 people in vulnerable communities with COVID-19 prevention education. We also recently started a gender-based violence (GBV) program in the East region that seeks to improve access for 8,000 women and children to GBV services in a COVID-19 context. In August, we trained 21 staff in psychological first aid, enabling them to provide emotional and physiological support to patients and families affected by COVID-19.


Central African Republic

International Medical Corps was asked by the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) to lead CAR’s Community Engagement Committee, a consortium that also includes Oxfam, the Danish Refugee Council and Concern Worldwide, to support the country’s COVID-19 response. Activities began in Bangui and its major corridors that will target more than 373,500 community members. The program will strengthen response capacity for COVID-19 detection at the primary healthcare level, improve community hygiene activities and improve psychosocial support for infected patients and their communities. The program will also target children who live on the streets, benefitting a very large and vulnerable portion of CAR’s urban youth. So far, we have distributed almost 68,724bars of soap. Additionally, International Medical Corps supported three treatment centers in hospital settings and reached 571,714community members through COVID-19 awareness-raising activities, all through traditional, face-to-face methods. We have screened 9,063 patients for COVID-19, with 352 patients identified as suspected COVID-19 cases. Activities began on a program aiming to build upon existing local-response capabilities, to ensure coordinated and complementary activities for the community and most vulnerable. Activities include preparedness and response support for COVID-19 health services at Bria, Bambari and Birao health centers and hospitals by setting up a screening room for triage and isolation of patients, providing case management through a 20-bed inpatient facility at each hospital, and procuring PPE, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies and equipment.



The Chad country mission closed in June 2020. Before the closing, International Medical Corps completed a two-month project responding to COVID-19 at Chad’s UNION district hospital in Ndjamena. Our team trained 50 Ministry of Health staff on how to use PPE, how to detect COVID-19 symptoms and triage patients, and how to implement IPC measures. In addition, our team provided 10,060 non-sterile gloves, 600 gowns, 1,240 pieces of soap, 120 units of bleach, 650 face masks, 10 bottles of hand sanitizer gel and 20 pairs of protective scrubs to the hospital.


Democratic Republic of the Congo

Despite entering a second phase of reopening, the DRC has recorded a 20% decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases over the past week. Our DRC mission has trained 2,353 frontline staff and community health workers (CHWs) on COVID-19 case management, IPC, community-based surveillance and risk communication for behavior change. To date 587,819 people have been screened for COVID-19 at supported facilities, with 4,097 identified as suspected cases. The DRC mission has completed training on IPC for all staff members at facilities we support. So far, 84,507community members have been reached through traditional means of communication, such as awareness-raising activities by CHWs, community-based organizations and community action groups. Additionally, more than 118,240 community members have been reached through remote measures, such as COVID-19 prevention messages disseminated through SMS and radio. The DRC mission has so far distributed more than 110,000 items of hygiene items and PPE to its community health workers, patients and frontline staff, including 89,438 gloves, 3,575 gowns, 5,785 masks for healthcare workers, 1,805 masks for patients and 390 face shields, among other items. International Medical Corps continues to partner with the Ministry of Health in responding to the pandemic by strengthening IPC measures in supported health facilities across North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces, targeting 82 health facilities under our COVID-19 response.



The country team continues to participate in COVID-19 coordination meetings with different groups, including the national government and other implementing partners. During the first two weeks of October, we screened 16,219 patients for the virus in International Medical Corps-supported health facilities. During the same period, we trained 900 healthcare workers to recognize the symptoms, behavior and treatment of COVID-19. We also distributed more than 900 personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention and control (IPC) items. Our team in the town of Dollo, in southeastern Ethiopia near the country’s border with Somalia, continues to provide COVID-19 screenings for refugee traffic at the Dollo Ado reception center. We currently support 70 health facilities in the country.



International Medical Corps in Libya mobilized quickly to address the threat posed by COVID-19, training rapid response teams working for the country’s National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) about the virus and its symptoms; its prevention, transmission and treatment; how to conduct contact tracing; and how to use PPE. International Medical Corps was the first international NGO operating in the country to support the NCDC by donating PPE for its rapid response teams. We are also training health staff in all of our supported facilities on how to respond to suspected cases of COVID-19, as well as providing supplies of necessary PPE. In response to needs identified in consultation with the Libyan government, in June we began supporting five hospitals with training and PPE, while strengthening their capacity to triage and isolate COVID-19 patients. Our efforts have focused on the cities of Sabha, Tripoli and Misrata, which are experiencing the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases. In the Tripoli area, we have trained community health workers from migrant communities, to ensure that they receive correct information about the virus and are aware of appropriate services that are available to them. In August, we established a WhatsApp group for migrants to disseminate COVID-19 information from the World Health Organization and Libya’s NCDC, available in English, French and Arabic. Our mental health counselors continue to support our primary healthcare teams at three field locations and are providing culturally appropriate COVID-19 messages for an online awareness-raising campaign on a country-specific COVID-19 Facebook page. The counselors, together with our mental health specialist, are training municipality emergency committees on psychological first aid, and on how to deal with the combined stress of COVID-19 and Libya’s ongoing conflict. Beginning this summer, we have transferred our GBV programs to a remote case-management system, ensuring that survivors can still access our services while restrictions on movement outside the home are in place. Our GBV/protection team is training social workers from the Libyan Ministry of Social Affairs about the heightened risks of GBV that can occur as tightening restrictions on movement and curfews force more survivors to spend prolonged periods inside their homes with their abusers. In July, the team started similar training for frontline healthcare workers.



The COVID-19 pandemic is at a critical juncture in Mali following a military coup on August 18 that led to the dissolution of the current government. With no resolution yet reached on the transitional government, the future of COVID-19 response, prevention and testing efforts are now in jeopardy, with cases on the rise. International Medical Corps has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in places where we have active programming, including Timbuktu and Ségou, by training health staff, disinfecting key public places and health facilities, and distributing medicine and WASH supplies. We so far have reached 78 health facilities with COVID-19 activities and trained 136 frontline staff on COVID-19 treatment and prevention. As part of the national COVID-19 Task Force of the Health Cluster, International Medical Corps’ Mali team meets regularly with governmental counterparts in capital, Bamako, to determine needs and provide technical support, collaborating with such partners as ECHO, OFDA, WHO and UNICEF. The team also has worked with the MoH to fully disinfect 10 mosques, six community health centers, one referral health center and one regional hospital in Timbuktu. Subsequently, we provided WASH kits to these 18 facilities, along with two women’s centers that provide gender-based violence (GBV) support. We have also launched COVID-19 response activities in rural communities outside Timbuktu in Gourma Rharous, where teams have reached 4,403 people with COVID-19 information, and distributed WASH kits in 11 health facilities. Additionally, our teams trained 20 laboratory technicians across four health districts in Timbuktu, to improve COVID-19 sampling and specimen management at health facilities. In Ségou, our Mali team has distributed handwashing materials to 19 health clinics and 39 public sites, and launched COVID-19 activities in 19 communities in the San health district, including prevention education and the distribution of hygiene supplies. We also recently began an intervention that will support the evacuation of humanitarian staff affected by COVID-19 to Bamako for treatment. International Medical Corps health volunteers have reached more than 12,970 people with COVID-19 information since March. To ensure the safety of volunteers and frontline health staff in Mali, International Medical Corps has provided more than 11,150 PPE and hygiene items.



In Nigeria, International Medical Corps has been responding to COVID-19 by training community volunteers on IPC and referral pathways for health services, and serving on the national COVID-19 Task Force. To date, we have trained 9,364 frontline staff and reached 94,112 people with COVID-19 messaging. The Nigeria mission has also delivered 16,535 sanitation supplies, including hand sanitizer, face masks and chlorine for water treatment. Our WASH team has collaborated with other humanitarian partners to distribute 444,940 bars of soap to households and has put in place an additional 107 handwashing stations in IDP camps. Our nutrition team continues to provide services through 15 outpatient therapeutic programs, providing COVID-19 prevention messages during nutrition screenings for 24,675 children. On July 1, the country team started a new COVID-19 program in Damboa that will support WASH activities at five IDP camps, provide supplies and capacity-building support for IPC to one health facility and ensure that protection and GBV prevention are integral to all activities. This project will target 166,000 beneficiaries, including 99,000 IDPs. Our food-security and livelihoods team continues to provide cash-based transfers and commodities to 130,896 people, while providing education on COVID-19. The team will soon expand to Kano, to provide cash-based transfers to 12,700 households and support general food distributions provided by the government to 63,500 beneficiaries. The team also provided a refresher training of volunteer community mobilizers on COVID-19 prevention, with 72 female participants.



In Somalia, International Medical Corps is coordinating its response to COVID-19 through the Ministry of Health at both the federal and regional government levels, and is a member of Somalia’s risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) efforts. In Galkacyo South—about 500 miles northwest of Mogadishu—we have completed a COVID-19 isolation center within the Galkacyo South Hospital. Elsewhere, we have donated PPE to humanitarian partners in Jowhar, and have trained more than 600 staff on IPC measures, how to recognize COVID-19 symptoms, how the virus spreads and how to use PPE. Our GBV team has conducted focus group discussions with women and girls across our four operational areas, asking what they know about COVID-19, how they receive information and what their main concerns are about the virus. We have also conducted a baseline survey of COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes and practices in our areas of work, conducting the survey remotely to avoid the risk of transmission. We included phone-based household questionnaires and key informant interviews with a number of stakeholders, including Ministry of Health staff, traditional birth attendants, traditional healers, health center committees and religious leaders. International Medical Corps-supported health facilities in four of Somalia’s 18 regions continue to screen people for signs of the virus. In the first two weeks of October, we screened more than 12,000 people for COVID-19 and reached more than 20,000 community residents through COVID-19 awareness-raising activities across all our operational areas. In addition, we are broadcasting radio messages about COVID-19 on popular FM stations to reach as many people as possible. Facebook has also offered to provide targeted ads to support our COVID-related health messaging to local markets. To help raise awareness and correct misinformation about the pandemic, we have installed and now operate toll-free phone lines at our field sites, enabling community residents to receive accurate messages and information about COVID-19. In September, we started what has become a popular a call-in radio program, hosted by a medical doctor, to answer COVID-related questions and correct misinformation about the disease.


South Sudan

International Medical Corps continues to help lead the pandemic response in South Sudan, serving as co-lead of the country’s COVID-19 Case Management and IPC Technical Working Group. We were a major contributor in developing the national Case Management Strategy and a clinical management guide, as well as an upgrade to the guide based on current WHO and CDC protocols suited to the South Sudanese context. Our country director also has joined the South Sudan NGO Forum Steering Committee as an advisory member to assist the group with COVID-related advocacy, planning, and preparedness. As of October 15, we have screened 149,657 people in all three UN protection-of-civilian (PoC) camps: 104,757 in the Juba PoC, 32,584 in the Malakal PoC and 12,316 in the Wau PoC. In addition, we have put in place an adapted triaging system at the PoCs to pre-sort patients symptomatically to reduce transmission in the health facility. As of October 15, our health facilities in Juba Wau and Malakal have screened 185,732 patients. An infectious disease unit (IDU) that we co-manage in Juba was formally inaugurated on July 10 as the sole medical facility in the capital as well as the biggest in the country capable of treating COVID-19 patients. This facility, which has a staff of more than 100, has since admitted and managed 120 suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients. In addition to inpatient medical care, we provide nutritional and psychosocial support, and train South Sudan healthcare workers on IPC and clinical management of COVID-19 patients. Our staff has trained more than 320 healthcare workers since March. Since April, we have provided on-the-job training and supportive supervision to more than 340 healthcare staff at the Juba IDU and PoCs on case management, standard precautions of IPC, COVID-19 nutrition and anthropometry, safe patient transportation, psychological first aid (PFA), pharmaceutical dispensary, medical and PPE logistics. By mid-October, we had reached 93,152 people residing at the three PoCs with risk communication messages, which mainly focused on prevention messages stressing IPC and behavioral change. We also remotely provide home care for COVID-19 patients with mild and moderate disease in the towns of operation and at the POCs. We have extended COVID-19 case management intervention at the Al Muktah primary healthcare clinic in Wau, which was designated by the State Ministry of health to care for COVID-19 patients in Upper Nile State. The facility was inaugurated on 13 October 2020. Finally, we have deployed a team of ICU specialists to build the capacity of healthcare workers to provide intensive care to critical patients at the IDU and Juba Teaching Hospital. The team has started a baseline assessment for a plan to establish the first intensive-care unit in South Sudan.



International Medical Corps continues to respond to COVID-related cases in five of the country’s 18 states: West Darfur, South Darfur, Central Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. We continue to provide lifesaving health and WASH services at the 52 health facilities and community-level clinics we support, adhering to government guidelines and protocols established for dealing with COVID-related issues. We continue to support coordination meetings led by the respective state ministries of health and attended by those agencies and organizations involved in the COVID-19 response. During the first two weeks in October, our teams screened 10,614 people for signs of the virus and continued daily COVID-19 messaging at targeted health facilities, reaching an estimated 22,199 people directly and another 512,346 indirectly. We also distributed 4,254 PPE and IPC items during this period. To support ongoing surveillance activities, we continued the selection and training of community health volunteers in all five states.



Zimbabwean authorities are gradually relaxing lockdown regulations and reopening the economy, while remaining cautious about public gatherings and promoting social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19. In early 2020, the virus was spread by an influx of returning citizens from South Africa and Botswana, fleeing lockdown-induced economic hardships and job losses, but community transmission has been on the rise in recent months. Although the healthcare system was already overstretched before the pandemic, the situation has now worsened dramatically. For more than a month, 15,000 nurses were on strike over their decreasing wages, affecting all healthcare services. International Medical Corps is implementing two COIVD-19 projects in Zimbabwe. In the first, we are providing WASH and community hygiene promotion activities for more than 31,000 people in Binga, one of the most impoverished, marginalized districts in Zimbabwe, which faces severe water scarcity due to years of drought. In the second, which we are implementing across three provinces, we are targeting 17 health facilities, aiming to rehabilitate WASH facilities within COVID-19 isolation areas. Through our recently completed Amalima Project, our team and their partners have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to develop educational materials for communities about the COVID-19 pandemic. The program developed 100,000 fliers and 12,000 posters for communities in Bulilima, Mangwe, Gwanda and Tsholotsho on COVID-19 prevention. Those materials have been widely distributed in partnership with more than 300 community health workers who serve in vulnerable communities. We also helped provide 300 bicycles for these community health workers—enabling them to more easily reach remote areas with COVID-19 messaging—as well as 6,000 reusable masks. International Medical Corps has supported three treatment centers and 14 hospitals, which have screened 18,545 patients for COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, our Zimbabwe mission has trained 454 frontline staff and reached 1,224,721 people. Since early July, we have distributed more than 19,991 PPE and IPC items, including masks for healthcare workers, soap, sanitizer and gloves.

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